Status Quo Side: USA
Non-Status Quo Side: Panama
Region: Western Hemisphere
Conflict Type: Interstate
Issues in Dispute: Resources, Strategic, Territory
Nationalist sensitivities about the US Canal Zone Agreement granting ownership "in perpetuity," had been manifested since 1959 in various "flag" incidents. They were exacerbated by the failure of 1962 Presidential-level talks, apprehension over proposals for a new sea-level canal, contrasting living standards of American "Zonians" and Panamanians, and forthcoming Panamanian elections. The raising of a forbidden US flag by Zonian students led to a Panamanian student flag response on January 9. As the Panamanian students were leaving the Zone, disorders occurred, mobs of rioters poured in from Panama, and Zonal Police lost control.
US troops, facing grenades, rifle fire and home-made bombs reportedly provided by Cuban-trained provocateurs, used gunfire and tear gas to clear the Zone. Casualties and damage from two days of violence were heavy. Panama broke diplomatic relations, charged armed aggression and demanded Canal Treaty revision. Aggression charges were heard in the UN and OAS.
Agreement was reached to restore relations. New treaties drafted in 1967 were subsequently disowned by Panama.
Treaties were signed transferring canal control to Panama by the year 2000.
In 1989 US forces invaded Panama to arrest President Manuel Noriega on drug charges.
Copyright © 1999 Lincoln P. Bloomfield and Allen Moulton